UN ready to abandon Afghanistan in May unless the Taliban lifts restrictions on women

The United Nations is threatening to pull out of Afghanistan in May if the Taliban does not reverse its ban on women working for the organization, the Guardian reports.

The warning comes after months of negotiations between the UN and the Taliban, in which the UN has sought to persuade the group to make exceptions to the ban. However, the Taliban has refused to budge, and the UN is now considering its options.

Achim Steiner, the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said that a withdrawal would be “heartbreaking” but that it was necessary to protect the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

“We have to be very clear that we will not compromise on fundamental principles,” Steiner said. “We will not compromise on human rights.”

The Taliban’s ban on women working for the UN is part of a wider crackdown on women’s rights in Afghanistan. Since taking power in August 2021, the Taliban has rolled back many of the gains made by women in the past two decades. Women are now barred from working in most government jobs, and they are required to cover themselves in public and to be accompanied by a male guardian when they leave their homes.

The UN’s withdrawal would have a devastating impact on the people of Afghanistan, who are already facing a humanitarian crisis. The UN provides essential services to millions in the country, including food, water, healthcare, and education. A withdrawal would leave millions of people without access to these essential services.

The UN is urging the Taliban to reverse its ban on women working for the organization. If the Taliban does not reverse the ban, the UN will be forced to withdraw from Afghanistan.